"Draw near to God - Put your trust in Him - Declare His works" (Psalm 73:28)
The Elements of Ministry
August 6, 2019
My definition of “ministry” here has to do with “the movement of something from God to a person who has need of that something.” Usually the fourth column presents itself first. This one has to do with “Man’s Impossible Need”.
I call it “impossible” because, generally speaking, a person won’t let the need be known until he has exhausted all his fleshly options and can no longer hide the need. So, either the person reaches out to another or the need becomes glaringly apparent to someone. This initiates the possibility for ministry.
The first column is always in place. This has to do with “God’s Limitless Supply”.
“…my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
God is all-knowing; He has always known the need.
“your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:8b)
God is all-powerful; He has the ability to meet the need.
God is wise; He knows when to offer the help and when not to offer it.
The second column has to do with the conduit through which the Lord chooses to supply the help. Sometimes He does this directly but often He chooses to use a willing human to do this. I call this person “Someone Who Will Minister the Supply for God”.
God will, at times, put a craving in the heart of a person to address the need of another. The temptation for that person will always be to meet the need out of his own resources and out of his own flesh.
Satan never wants God to get the glory; nor does he want the ministry to be effective, so he will try to get the person with a heart to minister to not minister God’s best to the one in need. The devil enjoys the death that the flesh brings to any situation (Romans 8:6).
Therefore, the person chosen by God to be the “Someone Who Will Minister the Supply for God” has to decide if he will cooperate with God to minister God’s supply. and then he has two other decisions to make:
1) He has to decide whether or not he will cooperate with God to address the “Impossible Need” of another. 2) He has to decide whether or not he will pass along EXACTLY what God supplies to the one in need…and nothing more nor less than that.
So far, we have seen a need become apparent, are aware of a God who loves people enough to address the need AND Who has the ability to do so…as He is unlimited in His grace, and, hopefully, there is in place a person with a heart to minister God’s best to the one in need.
There remains in question only the third column: “Will the Person with the Need Receive God’s Supply?”.
This third column is very important in “The Elements of Ministry” because God always has had a limitless supply, and there has always been an incredible need, and there often is someone God can work through (if not, He just does it Himself). The third column is very important because this is where God’s supply can stop before it can satisfy man’s incredible need.
Why is that? If a person will not receive from God it really doesn’t matter what God has for him because he won’t receive it and the need will remain unmet, despite the limitless supply of God.
Perhaps you can see yourself in what I am saying, either as one who gets frustrated with people for not receiving from God or, even, as one whose need never seems to be met.
There are two reasons that cause a person to not receive what God has for him:
1) He doesn’t know he needs what God has for him, or (and this is sad) 2) He doesn’t think he deserves what God has for him.
Good ministry, I believe, often means to help (with the Lord’s prompting) the person to see the need in their own lives AND to see the limitless grace of God to supply - at least as a possibility. Sometimes this is agonizing to watch because it involves awakening one’s soul hunger.
In the 1980’s there were terrible famines in Ethiopia. People would be so hungry for so long they no longer felt hunger pangs. Eventually, the world responded and relief came bringing with it a seemingly limitless supply of food.
Relief workers cooked it in the form of a porridge, but no one ate. Why? They didn’t feel hungry because their bodies had given up hope of ever eating again. They had resigned themselves to never having the need for food met.
Do you know what the relief workers did? They dabbed a finger in porridge and put a bit on a person’s tongue.
This wouldn’t awaken the hunger; the hunger was there and was actively killing them. They just couldn’t feel it.
It would awaken the hunger PANGS…the pain...and the starving people would writhe on the ground in agony. They were aware of the hunger but then they could receive the food.
At that point they knew very well that they had a need and were ready to receive.
One key aspect of ministry has to do with listening to God as HE works the person to an awareness of their need. This can be VERY painful for them and, if we do ministry right, it will be painful for us to watch and walk through that with them.
If we desire to ever engage on behalf of the Lord at this level in someone’s life we should decide now whether or not we love people enough to do that. If so, we will be witness to Him awakening them to their need for what He has to offer them.
The other reason people are reticent to receive from God has do to with a sense of unworthiness. Many think, “I don't deserve it”. I believe this is a non-issue logic-wise, but it has to be addressed.
Many Christians have been conditioned by the system to believe they are undeserving of a gift from God but I think that is a doctrinal error. The reality is that NO ONE deserves ANYTHING from God based on our performance.
“…by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:20-23)
The truth is that anything God does for us is a gift.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
The GIFT of God is eternal life and healing or restoration or deliverance or…well, anything God does for us is an outgrowth of eternal life.
Here is what I believe about gifts from anyone: "The giver of the gift determines the worthiness of the one receiving the gift by virtue of the fact that he gives it."
God gives because He wants to...not because anyone deserves anything from Him.
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
He extends the gift to all; therefore, we ALL deserve it.
It sounds weird, doesn’t it, to hear someone say, “I deserve eternal life” or to hear someone say, “I deserve for God to do things for me”? Doesn’t that sound strange?
This is because we were law-bound for so long that we’re stuck in an “earn it or else mentality”. We’re used to cause and effect here on the earth. God, though, is otherworldly; He operates from grace. God gives because He wants to – therefore, we deserve it...because He says so.
It’s different, isn’t it?
“So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.” (Acts 10:33)
The hope in “The Elements of Ministry” is that “The Person in Need Receives from God”. This man was poised to receive from God through Peter. In fact, they all were; they were ready to absorb from God. Can you see the receptivity there?
So, we must ask the question, “Are we as receptive as we could/should be?” It seems this changes moment by moment but we tend to be either receptive or not.
On the other side of that equation, it is very important for the person who allows God to work through him to be received but that’s not his goal. The goal is to be willing to minister. However if the person to whom he ministers is not willing to receive from God through him, it won’t matter what he says, does, or tries to give. If the one with the need doesn’t want to receive he simply will not receive.
When Cornelius says this to Peter: we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God” he is telling Peter, “We’re ready to receive.” He is inviting Peter into their lives; so, Peter goes in.
I think this is a good pattern for us. I personally have a practice of offering to share and then asking the person “Do you want to hear it?” and if a person says, “No” (and some do say that), I don’t speak even if God told me what it is I think I am to share.
You might ask, and rightfully so, “Why would God give us something to share and not want us to share it?”. (Sometimes He tells us for prayer purposes only.)
So, Peter is invited in...and goes in.
I’d like to close this study with a few important ministry principles:
1) Seek God - directly or through whoever He chooses to speak. An 11-year-old girl taught one of our Gatherings once. We sought God and He picked her to teach through that night; it was a wonderful teaching.
2) Let’s set our hearts to be receptive to Him. Let’s absorb what He has for us.
3) Let’s obey Him and do what He prompts us to do. It doesn’t matter what God gives us if we don’t put it to use.
4) Let’s test the spirits against the Word. We need to make sure it really IS God at work! Even a person chosen by God to minister to us or speak to us can get caught up in the moment and go beyond what God said to say or do. If we listen to the Lord we will know.
5) Finally, let’s accept the fact that God is a good Father and loves us and always has our best in mind.
May the Lord bless you with opportunities to bring His Kingdom into the lives of those around you by allowing His order to penetrate those lives.